The continuously growing demands in high-density memories drive the rapid development of advanced memory technologies. In this work, we investigate the HfOx-based resistive switching memory (ReRAM) stack structure at nanoscale by high resolution TEM (HRTEM) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) before and after the forming process. Two identical ReRAM devices under different electrical test conditions are investigated. For the ReRAM device tested under a regular voltage bias, material redistribution and better bottom electrode contact are observed. In contrast, for the ReRAM device tested under an opposite voltage bias, different microstructure change occurs. Finite element simulations are performed to study the temperature distributions of the ReRAM cell with filaments formed at various locations relative to the bottom electrode. The applied electric field as well as the thermal heat are the driving forces for the microstructure and chemical modifications of the bottom electrode in ReRAM deceives.

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